It is a truth universally acknowledged that all things, regardless of whether they are good or bad, must come to their end. Alas, even our journey down the Yellow Brick Road must come to its end. Were we able to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Well as far as we’re concerned, we certainly did. The year had its own share of trials and tribulations but unity and perseverance certainly saw us through. On this, our final day here we share with you the wonderful heights we achieved this year, and as we bid farewell to our journey on the Yellow Brick Road, we present to you, the State of the Blog.
The Editorial of Rotaract Arts has always been busy, and this year was nothing short of extraordinary as we published up to 95 articles! The Editorial Team comprised very passionate and vocal writers who contributed by writing articles on a diverse set of topics ranging from mental health to cinema to very pertinent contemporary issues. Additionally, we were also able to publish a variety of poems and short stories. This would not have been achievable without the help of our team of dedicated writers to whom we express our heartfelt gratitude. You helped shape the Editorial to what it was this year, and we as Editors appreciate your efforts.
The biggest achievement and greatest milestone for the year however was expanding to trilingual articles. In keeping with the motto for this year, “Inclusivity, unity and community through service”, we were able to open up our doors to writers of all three languages, English, Sinhala and Tamil. Although growth may have been slow, this was a major shift in the narrative of articles written exclusively in English. The framework and progress made this year will hopefully open doors to greater expansion in the years to come! In this vein, it is essential to take a moment thank our external editors Ms. Lughadarini Yogaraja and Ms. Abinaya Sritharan, as well as our internal editor Rtr. Fathima Rismina, all of whom who shared the same zest as we did in embarking upon this new chapter for the Editorial.
Additionally, the Editorial successfully launched several major and minor scale projects this year. In keeping with seasonal conventions, in 2022 the Editorial initiated ‘The Ghoul Game’ during Halloween season as well as ‘Readers’ Digest’ post-Christmas. The following year kick -started project ‘The UNI verse. Amidst these major projects were several mini projects including ‘Not this time November’ for exam season and ‘Crosswords: by the Editorial’, all of which were greatly appreciated. The grand total of 6 projects and sub-projects were completed this year which once again, would not have been possible without the support of our team.
Membership and process of article publishing
This year’s Editorial comprised 43 members of which 30 of them actively contributed to the Editorial’s initiatives throughout the year. Additionally, the Executive Committee and Board of Directors were also given the platform to contribute to the RotaractArts’ blog. The Editorial team formally met virtually at the start of the RI year and scheduled meetings when needed to discuss projects and other related processes. The progress of editing and publishing of all articles were overseen by the Co-Editors while Tamil articles were edited by the designated editors. Articles were published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays or Wednesdays and Saturdays when there were a smaller number of articles in the pipeline. All information pertaining to the articles was tracked in a database to ensure accurate reporting of the Editorial’s progress. However, providing feedback was not adequate as intended due to the lack of time and is an area we hope the incoming Editorial can effectively inculcate in time to come due to its importance.
The Ghoul Game
The Ghoul Game was a blog series comprising a total of 12 articles in the form of short stories. Each story revolved around a popular yet eerie destination in Sri Lanka. The series was published in October and in keeping with the theme of Halloween, each story related a tale of horror and gripping fear. The Ghoul Game was our most popular series and was a great kick-starter project for the Editorial.
True to its name, the Readers’ Digest was a series dedicated to food. The series, published over two weeks in December, was meant to capture the essence of the holiday season. The 12 articles of the Christmas season revolved around the writer’s various experiences with food.
The UNI verse
The final project of this year comprised eleven articles which were published during the months of March and April. The series served as an open platform of sorts for writers to submit articles related to their university experience. Writers were encouraged to share their authentic experiences in the hopes of opening up conversation and creating a sense of community.
Month In Review (MIR) – a recurring series. As the name suggests, this year’s Editorial continued the initiative of the preceding Editorial by publishing at the beginning of each month a summary of the club’s progress and events of each avenue of the preceding month. The main upgrade to this series was that this year we were able to publish in all three languages. Two writers were assigned per language and the final editing was done by the Co-Editors. The MIR team renewed at the end of six months to give an opportunity to a wider pool of writers in the team while also mitigating the probability of monotony. In total, 11 MIRs were published at the beginning of each month with the MIR of April and May being published together.
The Editorial initiated a few sub-project and unofficial series in the blog in hopes of filling the interim periods during the projects. Prior to the commencement of the first project, the Editorial consolidated a bank of poems and articles of all languages and was published from July until the end of September. It was an absolute joy for us as Editors to read through a new era of contributions from up-and-coming writers, ranging from short stories, poems, reviews, informative articles, op-eds, etc. Publication of general articles and poems took place once again after end semester exams in April 2023.
Another sub-project that the Editorial embarked on was titled “Not This Time November,” which was a mini-series compiled by the Co-Editors on study tips November 2023. This was published chiefly on WhatsApp statuses to ensure greater dissemination and ease of reading leading up to the end-semester exams in December 2023. The same set of study tips were consolidated and published on the blog prior to the end semester exams in April 2023 to refresh the minds of readers and members alike.
“Crosswords: by the Editorial,” was an unofficial sub-project launched by the Co-Editors post-end-semester examinations in April 2023. The Co-Editors sought to compile traditional crossword puzzles based on a variety of themes such as books, movies, geography, Sri Lanka, and others for a period of six weeks. It was a project aimed at keeping members engaged with the Editorial while also revisiting an underrated game at present, due to the rise of video games and other forms of entertainment.
The final sub-project the Editorial embarked on was, “The Curtain Call,” which was the series publishing the farewell articles of the EXCO and BOD as per tradition. The series began in the first week of June and concluded on the 28th of June 2023. It was a combination of moving, emotional, inspirational, and a walk down memory lane of each member of the EXCO and BOD for the year 22-23. We thank all the contributors for their words of wisdom and a year of successes and lessons and hope it provides a source of guidance to the incoming EXCO and BOD.
Statistics of the Editorial
Statistics of the blog for RotaractArts were sourced from the WordPress plugin ‘Jetpack’ which was installed in the previous year. The Co-Editors periodically kept track of the progress of each blog article through the statistics the plugin provided. Based on the available tracked data from Jetpack and our databases we were able to determine the following variables:
- Total views of the blog overall = 25,612 (as at 30th of June 2023: 8am)
- Total number of comments on the blog = 72
- Blog series with the greatest number of views = The Ghoul Game
The significant growth in the number of views can be attributed to several factors such as: quality of work by the writers, inclusion of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) keywords when publishing articles, reach of articles through the club’s social media pages such as Instagram and Facebook as well as dissemination through WhatsApp. The cause of the high reach for Ghoul Game can be credited to the even distribution of languages for each story which was unfortunately absent in other series. When determining the progress of trilingual distribution, it is also important to bear in mind that the main language of conduct is in English which means that introductory articles, thank you articles, crosswords, and other minor sub-projects by the Co-Editors were published in one language. There is room for improvement when further equalising the publication of all three languages. Nonetheless, we do think that there are many writers with great potential and transitioning to trilingual publishing brought out that key factor. As Co-Editors we believe that the editorial this year was not only a trial year for trilingual publication but also a steppingstone to improve diversity of the blog. An area of focus for the next Editorial would be to ensure consistency and equal distribution of each language.
As we bid farewell to the yellow brick road, we’d like to thank our Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for their immense support to make our work less stressful. From writing articles to descriptions and updating the monthly review while giving us suggestions on how to improve certain aspects, we are truly grateful. One of the most important things that any team member can ask for is support, care, empathy, and teamwork and we are truly fortunate to have been part of such an EXCO and BOD. Thank you once again!
Additionally, we cannot forget our wonderful team of writers who stuck by us and supported us against all odds. To everyone who supported the Editorial by submitting an article or their creative piece we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. As Co-Editors the biggest motivation that we can receive is having a dedicated and enthusiastic pool of writers and we are grateful for everyone who kept us going until the end. In a world that is evolving into an upgraded digital space through AI, we hope you continue to write and always be imaginative. Your talents are irreplaceable!
When we look back at the diverse articles, poems, short stories, reviews, and explosions of creativity that painted our Editorial, we can safely say that it has been an era of change, adapting, and feeling content with the content wink. It is our belief that the Editorial will continue to grow and expand so that it reaches everyone in the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo and not just a few and inspires many to read, write, and be imaginative. Determining who leads this mammoth task is of utmost importance for the Editorial’s sustenance. In that light, we are proud to announce the upcoming Co-Editors Rtr. Kusali Rupasinghe and Rtr. Sajani Jayasinghe who have proven consistently throughout the year that they are deserving of this role. Not only are they creative but also innovative, which are two important characteristics to create positive change through the Editorial’s work, and we know that they will not disappoint. As outgoing Co-Editors, we are proud of our decision and are excited about what is in store for next year. We hope that the Editorial team will give them their best and support our incoming Co-Editors in any way they can!
At last, we come to the official end of the Editorial for the year 2022-23 by giving you the update on the State of The Blog. The journey had its bumps but all in all it is one that we can look back on and be proud of. Like we aspired to at the beginning of the year, we sometimes followed and sometimes went astray but somehow managed to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz! So Goodbye Yellow Brick Road!
With that the Co-Editors for the RI year 2022-23 bid you farewell and best of luck in all that you hope to do.
Rtr. Shihara Ferdinando & Rtr. Tharini Ratwatte
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